Four weeks to go eek! Whilst the planning and the excitement are taking over our lives, a sense of nostalgia is beginning to creep in. We’re leaving Manchester. The city we both grew up in and the city I have spent my entire life in.
Now there’s a reason I haven’t left these rainy pastures before… I’ve never wanted to. Despite the too many to count grey days, Manchester is one of the best cities you will ever visit (totally not bias, I promise…).
So, with the birth of this travel blog we thought what better place to start than the place we know best!
Now despite not making the top 5 largest cities in the UK, Manchester is vast. From the student filled areas of Fallowfield, made famous by The Courteeners, to the business district of Deansgate where old architecture meets new, there is more than enough here to cater to every type of person. But I wanted to keep it personal, tell you about the places that make Manchester home to me. So here it is, a mini tour of this wonderful city, tried and tested by a proud Mancunian.
Like most Manc’s native or not, I spend much of my time in the Northern Quarter, a great place to wander around and get a vibe for the city and the people within it. If you’re anything like me, then brunch is up there with one of the better parts of the day and Manchester appreciates this. My go to place is Common, tucked away on Edge Street, Common is a local art filled café with options ranging from the classic Eggs Benedict to Mexican Hash and the so-called millennial bank breaker, Avocado on Toast. Whether you need space to meet a few friends or a small booth in the corner to mull over your hangover with just one, Common is the perfect place for both.
Like any city centre Manchester is full of shopping opportunities, from designer brands near St Ann’s Square to the high street havens of The Arndale and Market Street to the scores of vintage shops in the Northern Quarter… I could go on. But if anywhere is worth your time it is most certainly the colourful wonderland that is Oklahoma. Located on the corner of Thomas Street, this beacon of interior lustre is my favourite place to visit and day dream about designing a house that I definitely do not have. Reasonable prices and unique items mean you could spend hours in there picking up and playing with various bits and bobs. It’s practically a playground for anyone who is obsessed with home-ware like myself.
For those who like to explore, Afflecks Palace is a Manchester experience you do not want to miss. A place where I spent the majority of my teen years figuring myself out through various styles, you’ll see history repeating itself as well as a stream of dedicated customers acquired over the years. From fancy dress, to piercings, to vintage clothes, Afflecks Palace is a dream world of independent retailers. Spend some time getting lost on all four floors, it’s the perfect example of diversity in Manchester.
Ready for a late afternoon tipple? The Northern Quarter is full of quirky bars but my evenings tend to be spent around the streets feeding off Stevenson Square. Here you’ll find a beautifully brick-walled refuge known as Kosmonaut, a craft beer dream world which plays some of the best music both day and night. Alternatively (or as well, depending on how you foresee your evening going), the subterranean nautical themed gaming bar Hold Fast – yes it’s as crazy as it sounds – is perfect for a competitive drinking session with pals!
Tip: Head towards the back of the bar where there are a few booths that house Sega and PlayStation 2 consoles for some real nostalgic fun.
Getting peckish? Well Stevenson Square is also home to Slice, a little “slice” of Italy (I’m so sorry…) with an outdoor seating area, perfect for people watching and a late-night pizza window, it’s one of my favourite places to grab a quick bite to eat!
Finally, this is Manchester and what would Manchester be without its music scene? There are too many live music venues to name, putting on bands and artists of all genres but in terms of larger venues, my personal favourite has got to be The Albert Hall. It is, by far, the most beautiful music venue I have ever seen. The architecture, the holy décor and the acoustics from heaven make it a must do/see/hear. Notable smaller venues around the city include Jimmy’s, Night and Day Café, Gullivers and The Castle Hotel. Perfect for music filled nights almost every night!
Side note: Jimmy’s is absolute Instagram heaven!
I hope this little guide gives you a few ideas of how to spend your time in my wonderful home city but if you have any questions or your own tips for other readers, please feel free to leave a comment below!